**This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Capital One Canada. All opinions are my own.

Did you know that March is Fraud Prevention Month? It may seem silly that we need to dedicate a month to fraud protection, but it’s created positive changes. According to a recent study from Capital One, 93% of Canadians are taking measures to protect themselves against fraud and identity theft. That’s a huge improvement as only 53% of Canadians reported taking steps to protect themselves in 2018 so clearly Canadians are on the right track.

Despite this improvement, 91% of those surveyed don’t have a clear understanding of what companies are doing to protect their personal information and only 11% feel large companies are doing enough to protect their personal information

To help ensure you’re not a victim of fraud and identity theft, here are 8 things you can do right now to protect yourself.

fraud and identity theft

Be smart about your PIN

Of those surveyed, 71% said they keep their PIN private, but you can take a few extra steps to protect yourself. You obviously don’t want a PIN that’s easy to guess such as your birthday or “1234,” but it’s also a good idea to change your PIN at least once a year or whenever you return home from a trip. Also, be sure to use a different PIN for each card.

Keep your personal information safe

Have you ever noticed that many security questions revolve around your personal information? If you’re posting where you went to grade school or your pet’s name on Facebook, you’re making it easier for thieves to access your info. You don’t need to keep your social media profiles completely private but think twice about what personal information you’re making public.

Take advantage of your credit card features

Most credit cards have fraud protection where you won’t be liable for unauthorized purchases, but did you know there are even more ways to protect yourself? Some credit card providers, such as Capital One, offer two-way fraud alerts which identify unusual transactions in real-time, and then send through an email or text message prompting customers to verify the transaction. This is a feature that you need to opt-in to in order for this alert to be active, but it’s a great measure to protect yourself from fraud in partnership with your financial institution.

Check your statements on a regular basis

It’s important to review your credit card statements on a regular basis. Most people wait until their statements arrive, but it’s a good idea to check your account balance and transactions regularly, to look for suspicious activity. Thieves aren’t always looking to make big purchases; sometimes they make small ones first to see if you’ll notice. If there’s a purchase you don’t recognize, call your credit card provider immediately so they can investigate.

Report lost or misplaced cards immediately

If you think you’ve lost or misplaced a card, you’ll want to report it right away. Many credit card providers can put a temporary block on your card to prevent people from using it to make purchases. If you find your card later, simply unlock it.

Check your credit score

Having a good credit score is essential if you’re going to get a loan in the future. By using a free credit score tool like Credit Keeper from Capital One, you can monitor for unexpected changes on a weekly basis. If your credit score has dropped, that could be a sign that someone has tried to open a new loan under your name.

Choose strong passwords

Many websites now require a combination of letters and numbers when choosing a password, but don’t forget to mix in some upper/lower case characters and symbols. You should never use the same password for any two sites.

Get a copy of your credit report

So, what do you do if you think you’re a victim of fraud? You should order your credit report from one of the credit reporting agencies in Canada. If you do see some suspicious inquiries, contact those lenders immediately to sort things out.

Final thoughts

If you want to learn more about fraud prevention, including the different types of fraud, you can check out Capital One’s fraud prevention site. Alternatively, you can read the full survey results to see what steps Canadians are taking to protect themselves from becoming a victim of fraud and identity theft.